In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander: I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination, and I rather like to succeed.
Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008)
The Remarkables, Queenstown, New Zealand. © Christian Mehlführer, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0.
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english language and history .com
a celebration in music, word games and two-minute tales
UK summer time

Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

A to Z Index

Glorious John
Music: Johann Baptist Cramer
JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.

BY 1784, thirteen-year-old Johann Baptist Cramer was such a naturally gifted pianist that Muzio Clementi, his distinguished teacher, performed a duet with him in public. Four years later, Johann toured Europe, and again in 1799, attracting the notice of both Haydn and Beethoven, who declared him the finest pianist of the day.

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Six Posts
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
Music: Muzio Clementi
When Parliament sent the Army against American colonists, people still calling themselves ‘British’ had to decide very quickly what that meant to them.

FOLLOWING Samuel Adams’s ‘Boston Tea Party’ protest in 1773, London quartered some three thousand soldiers from the Regular army all around the port, with orders to destroy the rebels’ stockpile of weapons at Concord, and arrest Adams and John Hancock, then in Lexington.

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Marooned!
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
Jim Hawkins, on a remote desert island, has escaped pirates only to be caught by a shadowy figure among the trees.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

“WHO are you?” I asked.

“Ben Gunn,” he answered, and his voice sounded hoarse and awkward, like a rusty lock. “I’m poor Ben Gunn, I am; and I haven’t spoke with a Christian these three years.”

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Hannibal’s Passage of the Alps
Music: George Frideric Handel
Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps with nearly 50,000 men and 38 elephants is the stuff of legend.

WHEN Hannibal, aged twenty-six, inherited command of the Carthaginian army in Spain, he at once began harassing the town of Saguntum, which was friendly to Rome. Carthage ordered Hannibal to hold off, but his hatred of Rome burned so hot that he disobeyed the order.

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The Free-Wheeler
Music: Ethel Smyth
Composer Ethel Smyth buys a new-fangled ladies’ bicycle, and scandalises the neighbours.
By Ethel Smyth
(1858-1944)

IN the Illustrated London News were to be seen pictures of wild women of the usual unprepossessing pioneer type riding about Epping Forest, and I at once decided to buy a bicycle.

Aunts, cousins, and friends were horrified ... never has the word indelicate been bandied about with more righteous conviction. But my mother said this was perfect nonsense.

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The Langbaurgh Charter
Music: Sir Hubert Parry
Peter de Brus and his tenants agreed to work together after King John ordered a crackdown on unpaid rents.

THE wapentake of Langbaurgh, an area of modern-day Cleveland south of Middlesbrough, was granted by King John to Peter de Brus, Lord of Skelton, in 1207. Naturally, Peter was expected to pay rent to the Crown, a burden which was passed on to his tenants.

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The ‘Raindrop’ Prelude
Music: Frederic Chopin
As the storm raged around him, raindrops fell like music on the pianist’s heart.
By Georges Sand
(1804-1876)

HE saw himself drowned in a lake; heavy, icy drops of water fell rhythmically upon his breast, and when I made him listen to the sound of the drops of water which really were falling rhythmically on the roof, he denied ever having heard them.

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Cat Stories’ (18 posts)
page 1
1 The Wolf, the Bear and Cat Ivanovitch
A faithful but unprepossessing pet is turned out of hearth and home.
2 The Convert
By Harrison Weir
(1824-1906)
Victorian cat-lover Harrison Weir launches into his favourite subject, but finds his audience growing restive.
3 Pangur Bán
By Anonymous (Irish Monk)
(9th century)
A 9th century Irish monk scribbled some verses about a beloved cat into his copy book.
4 The Cats of Harrison Weir
A Victorian artist and avid bird-watcher banished cats from his country cottage, but soon wished he hadn’t.
5 Persian Treasures
By Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
‘Be careful what you wish for’, they say, and there could be no more endearing example.
6 Tom and Terrier
By Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)
A fox terrier spies what looks like a hapless victim – until he gets up close.
page 2
7 The Friendship of Cats
By Théophile Gautier
(1811-1872)
A cat’s affection is not easy to win, but the rewards make the effort worthwhile.
8 Belling the Cat
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A council of mice comes up with a plan to outsmart the Cat, but volunteers are a bit thin on the ground.
9 The Cat Who Walks by Himself
Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Part One. The sly cat hatches a plan to get all the benefits of domestic life without any of the responsibilities.
10 Angel Cat
By Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)
Cats do have a conscience: it tells them when to look innocent.
11 Typical Cat!
By P. G. Wodehouse
(1881-1975)
When a cat comes into your life, resistance is futile.
12 Too Clever By Half
Based on a short story by Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
Mrs Tabby White thought she’d try some of the clever things her humans did.
page 3
13 St Nicholas of the Cats
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A very unusual monastery with some very unusual protectors.
14 The Tale of Dick Whittington
The 14th century Mayor of London owed his fortune (and his wife) to his cat.
15 Heads I Win, Tails You Lose!
By Charles H. Ross
(1835-1897)
(That’s cat-tails, obviously.) And who ever said cats were unpredictable?
16 The Selfish Cat
Based on a story by Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
A tortoiseshell laments his hard life among heartless humans.
17 The Kitchen Cat
Based on a short story by Amy Walton
(1845-1925)
Part One. Ruth Lorimer’s strangely comfortless life changes when she finds a scruffy little cat on the stairs, but not everyone is pleased.
18 The Cat’s Wedding
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
It’s easier to change how you look than to hide who you are.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Opposites

Suggest words or phrases that are opposite in meaning to the words below.

First. With. Go.
JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Sycamore’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Do you know ‘pull along’ (3 letters), and ‘examine someone’s background and credentials’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘overbalance’ (6 letters), and ‘veteran’ (3,4 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Show you know the difference between these frequently confused words.
Do you know ‘glittering crown’ (6 letters), and ‘dark and gloomy’ (5 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: High Tiles (Letters Game) Games with Words

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Target Number (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic